Friday, October 19, 2012

Masterwork Adventures: The Making of a Campaign Session

I love playing D&D. Is is an amazing game. It has so many different facets, all of which are amazingly fun and engaging. You get the joy of building a character, realizing a character concept, helping to write a collaborative story, seeing your hard work pay off as your character advances in levels and becomes even more powerful, and getting to spend real quality time with friends. I love it. But the one thing I love more than playing D&D is actually running a game of D&D. Being a DM (Dungeon Master) comes with its own set of trials and tribulations, but the rewards are more than worth it. Running a game for my friends is some of the most fun I have. I absolutely love it.

For the next session I run, I am wanting to make a fairly detailed adventure. I have decided to document my process here on my blog. None of my players actually read my blog, so I should be safe in detailing this adventure here.

The first step in doing this is to come up with an idea. Seems obvious, I know, but this is a detailing of the process, and that's the first step of the process, so there you go. The idea I have is an old, decrepit mansion owned by an ancient vampire. I want it to be a little different, though. I want the mansion to be run and "maintained" by the ghosts of the vampire's victims. In Pathfinder, vampires can make servants out of their victims. However, I like the idea of this vampire's servants being the spiritual remnants of their former selves. The conceit for this is that the mansion is secluded and out of the way. Once upon a time, it used to visited frequently, either by travelers, or maybe the mansion is located in a ghost town that used to be quite lively. Either way, it rarely gets visitors now, and the vampire has not been able to renew its servant stock. They all died and decayed, leaving only their spirits behind to tend to their master/mistress. The vampire, itself, has gotten too weak from starvation to venture from its home to find food and more servants. However, it has found a way to retain most of its strength while in the vicinity of its mansion. I already know how it manages this, but, just in case any of my players *do* stumble across this (and they won't), I will keep it a secret for now.

What I am really going for, here, is a creepy, scary atmosphere. Not immediately threatening, but having the potential for some really bad stuff. So, I like the idea of a ghost town. The town itself would set the mood before anything supernatural was ever encountered. I think we'll do that.

So, we have ourselves a solid concept. Now what? Well, I'm going to start off doing some research into floor plans of different mansions. I am not the best floor plan designer, myself, so it would help me greatly to get an idea of what a proper mansion should look like. I suppose I could copy the design of the Spencer Mansion from Resident Evil, but no. I'd rather not. Also, despite the fact this campaign is set in medieval times, I'm going for more Victorian era feel. So, a Google Image search for "Victorian Era Mansion Floor Plan."

The Osborne House floor plans look like they have a lot of potential. It has a separate guest area, and a more secluded area for those that live there regularly. Perfect for what I have in mind. Let's see if I can make a map based off this floor plan.

The mapping program I use is called Dungeon Crafter 2. It is, unfortunately, an abandoned project that will never be finished, and is difficult to reliably get tiles sets for. However, it is the best mapper I have ever come across, and I have looked several times. I cannot find good door objects for the program, and all the ones I try to make myself look dirty and messed up for some reason, so I am forced to leave gaps where doors should be. Luckily, I use a different program for running the game, D20Pro, which has a built in mapper of its own. The mapper isn't as good, but I get to easily add doors to the maps I make in Dungeon Crafer 2.

The floor plan has a handy measuring tool, so I re-size the image until 10 ft. equals 1 in. (aprox.). Then I count the inches across and down. Neatly enough, it comes to about 28 in. both ways (maybe a little less on the up/down axis, but for simplicity's sake, we'll say 28 in.). In Pathfinder, a single square on the map traditionally represents a 5 ft. by 5 ft., or 25 sq. ft., area. In my mapper, I go 7 squares down, and seven across, then make a tile. This is my starting corner. I leave the space to have room to play around in, if I want to. Now, it's 28 in. in both directions, each inch representing 10 ft. However, we are dealing with 5x5 squares, so we need double that number, or 56, squares in each direction, across and down, to get the dimensions of our planned floor plan. I place two more tiles, one 55 squares to the right of my first tile, and on 55 squares down from my first tile. Including the first tile, that makes 56 in both directions. One more tile marks the last corner to complete the square area that I'll be mapping this mansion in. Now, I'm not going to follow the floor plan of the Osborne House exactly, but I'm going to take some of the basic design elements from it. I also want there to be at least two more levels, a second floor and a basement. The original Osborne House had at least one other floor, but I only got the plans for the one floor. However, it doesn't matter. Once I get the main floor mapped, the others will be based on it, not the original floor plan.

Using the same method as before, I block out the area used for the private area design. This will be where the vampire spends the majority of its time while the PCs are there, and also where its secrets are locked away. The PCs will be free, more or less, to roam the rest of the house.

This is the basic floor plan I will be working with. It will serve as the template for all of the floors I map for this adventure. The grey dome shape on the North side of the North-West corner is the second floor balcony, and will not be visible to the PCs on any other floor, assuming they even make it into the private area to see it. As you can see, the mansion looks drastically different, while still keeping some of the main design elements.

This is what the finished first floor actually looks like. I took some queues from the original floor plan, but changed it up a bit. I like my castles and mansions to have a lot of big, empty space. So I used a lot of big rooms and a 15 ft. wide hallway that snaked across the building. The hallway that leads to the private area is 20 ft. wide to denote its significance to the players. Though it is possible the PCs will never see the inside of the private area, I have still decorated it with private versions of the rooms in the guest area, minus bedrooms which will be upstairs. There is a staircase leading down in the kitchen (lower-leftmost room) that is supposed to lead to a cellar. I probably won't bother to map out that room as it has no significance at all. However, the downward staircases in the private area (the top-most ones) lead to a separate basement that will be mapped out, as it is the primary lair of the vampire.

This is taking longer than I expected, and while I knew this would be more than one part long, I did hope to at least finish mapping. Sadly, that is not the case. However, the next two floors won't be nearly as hard or as big, so we should be able to get through them fairly quickly next time. Then, it's time for the hardest part of all. NPC character creation. Woo!!!! See ya all next time!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Less Than Meets the Eye Pt. 2

When last we left off, I had played the first mission of Transformers: War For Cybertron. I wasn't too impressed with it, but I was still willing to give it a shot. Maybe it would get better.

Mission 2

This one has you flying through the annals of the planet Cybertron to activate an energon bridge back up to the space station from the first mission. Without a ship, we need another way to transport supplies up there. So, once again, I'm given the choice of three characters:

STARSCREAM
You also get to pick from Thundercracker and Skywarp. I don't include their pictures because they're basically the same as Starscream, except purple. No, that's not High Moon Studios being lazy. Thundercracker ans Skywarp have always been basically the same, except purple . . . well, blue. Still, the point remains. You get to choose between three identical jets. So what sets them apart? Well, one plays the Scientist role, which is basically called the medic in any other game, one gets the Scout role, which is pretty useless given the other choices, and then there's Starscream himself, who gets the Soldier role. If you're playing co-op, the healing abilities might be worth taking for one of the players, especially since I believe the healer can also drop sentries that let you see cloaked enemies, which is useful in this mission. However, in single player, you can't take advantage of having a healer in your squad if you play him, so I chose Starscream. As the Soldier, he gets more weaponry; in this case, the Cybertronian version of an automatic shotgun. Not quite as powerful as the two-shot shotgun you can pick up in-mission, but holds more than two rounds at a time. Starscream's primary weapon is a sniper rifle, so, between the two starting weapons, I didn't pick up many secondary weapons along the way, except for the occasional turret. Oh, and best thing about the fliers? In vehicle form, they get machine guns and missiles. Both with infinite ammunition.

I like flying. In the game adaptation of the first Michael Bay Transformers movie, Blackout and Starscream were probably my favorites to play as. Not only do I get to have fun as a Transformer, but I get to fly, too? Eff yes!!! So, I was in a much better mood going into this mission. Also, I figured out something about vehicle form. All vehicle forms have a hover mode that they default to. However, if you hold down L1 (or probably LB for you 360 players), it's like pushing on the gas, and your character starts controlling like an actual vehicle, instead of just your robot form with a different look. The ability to switch between these modes with the press or release of a button proved to be very useful, especially as I went up against other fliers. Being able to do a 180 on a dime, then blast off in the opposite direction allowed me to out-fly nearly anything the game could throw at me. Even enemy missiles.

So, when it came time to do the third mission - which allowed me to pick from Megatron, Soundwave, and some tiny, two-wheeled Scout thing - I picked Megatron again, to see if what I had learned could apply to him. Again, I found it usually useless to bother to transform, unless I was out of ammo for my other two weapons, but I wasn't as upset about that as I was last time. The same principle does apply to Megatron's hover tank form, bit it's just not as useful to be in. Except in the train track segment. Racing through the subway as fast as I could was fun. Still, I think next time I'm on the ground, I'm going for a Scout class.

I think this will be it for my War For Cybertron posts. I may do another when I beat it, but I don't think I'm going to do a mission by mission play. It wasn't as bad as I first thought. The robot controls still feel off, but the vehicle forms make me happy again. And the story, dialog, visuals, and sounds are incredible and spot on. This is Transformers. I will be getting the second one.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Less Than Meets the Eye

Wow, it has been awhile . . . again. I'm getting good at this hiatus thing. >.< <sigh>

So, it's been about two months since my last post, and a lot has happened since then. I've been real busy, too. So many things to talk about for my first post in two months. What shall it be about? Shall it be about returning to my old job? Not the craptastic one where I built industrial band saws. I tried to make that a good thing. I tried to change my attitude to enjoy it instead of hate it. It just wasn't me. No, I returned to the job before it. Games, music, movies, and collectables galore! I am so happy! . . . Erm, back on topic. How about my new girlfriend? The one I got introduced to on MY FIRST DAY BACK at the old job, which was also the day immediately after my last post (hence why I've been busy ;P). Or maybe this post should be about how LawGambit and I have officially switched from StarCraft II over to League of Legends. So . . . what's it gonna be?

Transformers: War For Cybertron.

I am a huge Transformers fanboy. I grew up on the G1 cartoon series and Beast Wars, and I have always loved the toys. I have wanted to play War For Cybertron since it came out. Now that the sequel, Fall of Cybertron, is out, I wanted to play it even more. Can't play the sequel before playing the original! I got some store credit at work for good performance yesterday, and was able to pick up a brand new copy of War For Cybertron for about $8. I was ecstatic. I got home, waited through the update and install, and prepared for awesomeness. Only to be disappointed.

So, here's the deal. I've only played the first mission, and have only played one character. I will be doing another of these after I have played a little more, but this will be my first impressions of the game.

The game takes place during the war on Cybertron, before the Tranformers ever come to Earth, and is ten missions long; five for each faction. The first five follow the Decepticons, and the second five follow the Autobots. For those of you who don't know, and I doubt there are many of you after the Michael Bay movies, the Decepticons are the bad guys and the Autobots are the good guys. Even though the "good guy" campaign doesn't start until six missions into the game, you can skip the first five if you want to launch right into the Autobot campaign. Me? I love the Autobots, but I also love the Decepticons, and I like experiencing a story from the first. So, mission #1 it was.

The first mission has you infiltrating a space station run by Sky Commander Starscream. This is before Starscream joins the Decepticons, and is just carrying out his duties as Sky Commander. Also, "infiltrating" tends to suggest subtlety. In this case, it means ramming a starship into the side of the station.

Anyway, you get to choose one of three characters to play as for the first mission:

BRAWL
A hover tank with double barrels on the turret. Very tempting. He only gets the Cybertronian equivalent of an assault rifle in his robot form, but he would likely have more armor than some of his smaller counterparts. A strong candidate to be sure.

BARRICADE
If you saw the Michael Bay movies, you may remember Barricade as the police car that chased Shai LaBeouf into the junkyard where Bumblebee had to save him. Useless humans. Anyway, Barricade plays a Scout role in War For Cybertron. I don't know that he has any weapons in vehicle form, but he does get the same assault rifle as Brawl while in robot form. In theory, he's less armored, but faster than Brawl (I say in theory because I haven't played him, so I don't know). As much as I like firepower, I also like speed. In fact, I often like speed more. Tempting.

MEGATRON
The leader of the Decepticons. Megatron is one of the few Transformers that people have trouble settling on a form for. He's been a fighter jet, he's been a caravan truck, and in the old G1 cartoon, he was even a hand-held pistol. (Don't ask how a 12 foot robot transforms into a pistol. It was the Eighties.) While no single form can truly be decided on for Megatron, the most common is some form of tank. That is what the people at High Moon Studios went for with their version of Megatron, a hover tank with a massive, forward cannon. What's better, in robot form he gets to use that cannon as his primary weapon instead of the assault rifle equivalent the others are stuck with.

What's that, High Moon Studios? The first mission, and you're going to let me play as Big Man Megs himself? Hellz yes!!!!

So, we crash into the station and have to vacate the area before our ship's core goes critical and takes an even bigger chunk of the station out with it. Literally starting off with a bang. Okay, I'm totally down with that.

Let me take this opportunity to touch on what the game got right. The game looks amazing. The way the station reconfigures around you as you go through, and the SFX that play as it does, are exactly what one would expect from a Cybertronian space station. The look and feel of the station, even when it's not moving, are spot on. This is the Transformers Universe, and you are in it. Beautiful.

Now, what it gets wrong is apparent from the first. The controls don't feel right. It feels like you are piloting a mecha, where one stick controls your torso, which is locked into combat-ready position, and the other stick controls your feet, which move completely independently of your torso. This may sound like an odd complaint, seeing as how you are controlling a giant robot. However, Cybertronians aren't just giant robots. They are alive, and as close to biological lifeforms as a machine can get while still being 100% synthetic. As such, they don't move like machines. They move like we do. It should feel like it.

Also, while in tank form, the controls felt exactly the same as in robot form. I was a completely different machine, practically, but still moved like I did in my other form. It felt wrong. It also made it feel like there was no real point in being a tank unless I ran out of ammo for my other two weapons, as, for some odd reason, the cannon in tank form uses different ammunition than the same cannon in robot form. That bit isn't complaining, though. Even though it was odd, it was nice to have a third store of ammo. Still, one of the best things about playing a Transformers game is that you play a character that changes into dramatically different forms. When the only difference in forms is that you can't jump as high, something is wrong. When games based on the Michael Bay movies do a better job of giving you the experience of being a Transformer than this game does, something is *very* wrong.

We continue through the station, defeating the stations defenses, as well as Starscream's lackeys. You only start out with your primary weapon, and whatever weapon your vehicle form may have, but you get to pick up secondary weapons along the way, including the assault rifle equivalent, in case you played as Megatron and felt you really missed out on it. I didn't feel that way, but I picked it up anyway so I could properly feel sorry for Brawl and Barricade, who followed me through the station armed with it alone. Other secondary weapons I picked up on my way through the station included a grenade launcher, which had grenades that stuck to enemies and allowed you to remote-detonate them, a shotgun, which only held two rounds at a time but made up for it by not having the atrocious reload times most shotguns in games do, a rocket launcher, which locked on to Transformers while they were in aircraft form (very useful against some of Starscream's fliers), and a vulcan cannon, which was a turret with infinite ammunition until I took it off its tripod and installed it on my arm.

There were a few interesting points, but nothing all that great. Mostly it was just get from point A to point B, killing things as you go. There was one point where a giant hole was in the station where there shouldn't have been one, and you had to jump across debris to get to the next section. At the end of that section, after you finally make it to where you're going, the floor you're on starts breaking up and drifting off into space, and you have to keep from drifting off with it. That's about as exciting as it gets, and if you follow your buddies, they seem to know it's going to happen before it does and avoid the sections that break off completely. After that, it's just more corridors and shooting stuff like it was before. Not horrible, really. I mean, it's fun to shoot stuff. However, the mission was really too long for the lack of anything worth doing. It really could have been about half as long and been a better level for it.

Well, that's my first impression of Transformers: War For Cybertron. Not bad, but not nearly as good, at least so far, as I was led to believe. Worth the $8 I shelled out for it. I hope it gets better, though. We'll find out next time!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Schrodinger's Break TIme

So, today was my last day working for the Infernal Wal-Mart. To celebrate, I thought I'd share with you all something that occurred to me one day while I was refilling the milk doors.

I have a habit, no matter which job I'm at, of waiting to look at the clock/my watch/whatever time piece is available. I like wondering what time it is, and then delaying what time I actually check. Normally, I am wondering if it is, or is nearly, break time or time to leave. Why do I do this?

To answer this, I am going to tell you about Schrodinger's Cat. According to the Wikipedia article I linked to in the previous sentence, Erwin Schrodinger, an Austrian Physicist, created the thought experiment now known as Schrodinger's Cat. The experiment deals with an aspect of Quantum physics, and posits that, if one were to put a cat in a box with a bottle of poison, and set the bottle of poison to be broken if a Geiger counter was set of by a radioactive particle that may or may not exist, then the cat inside is both dead and alive at the same time for as long as the box remains unopened. My best friend LawGambit like to refer to this clip from The Big Bang Theory as the best explanation of Schrodinger's Cat he's ever seen/heard. Partly because he's a Sheldon fan-boy. Partly because it really is one of the best explanations of Schrodinger's Cat.

So, back to our original topic. Why do I wait to check the time? Well, the cat is really only part of it. The other part works off the principle of delayed gratification. Delayed gratification makes everything better. Yes, I realize that sounds incredibly dirty, which is not helped at all by the fact that the principle works as well for sex as it does anything else it can be applied to. No, I do not know how to make it sound less dirty. Especially since the best non-anecdotal example I can come up with is from the show Ally McBeal, when Miss McBeal teaches one of the other ladies how to properly enjoy her coffee. Using the principle of delayed gratification, they heighten the experience to a near orgasmic level. I would imagine that they exaggerated the effects of delayed gratification a bit, unless you happen to *really* like coffee, but the principle is sound. For those of you who don't remember, or have never seen it, here is a poor quality recording of the scene I'm referring to. Sorry I couldn't find a better one.

So, yeah. That's sort of how it works. The Schrodinger's Cat principle of being both break time and not break time at the same time is in effect until I finally look at my watch/phone/the clock. Using delayed gratification, when I finally check the time, I feel a greater excitement, or a greater disappointment if it's not as late as I thought, than I would have if I had checked it immediately. Using both of these principle makes it fun to not check the time immediately.

And that, friends, is a look behind the scenes of how my mind works. I never said it made sense. Only that is works.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Why Mass Effect 3 Sucks

It doesn't.

Well, okay, I can't say that for sure. I've never played it. But everything I've seen of it looks totally awesome. The only thing that pisses me off about the game is what they did to Tali. Tali deserves so much better than a random stock photo. Yeah, that's right, not even the horrid ending pissed me off. I don't care. How else is it supposed to end? Shepard and Tali riding off into the sunset? . . . Come to think of it, I'd be down with that ending, actually. Though, in my heart of hearts, I ship Fem Shep/Garrus. . . . I'm not gay, I promise.

Anyway, getting off the point. The point is, I really don't have a lot against the game itself. Certainly not as much as a lot of people seem to. However, I am still not likely to ever actually buy the game, even after playing, and absolutely loving, the first two games in the series. Why is that? One word. Origin.

Now, I've heard a lot of bad things about Origin, how it's not coded well, how it pokes around where it shouldn't, how it has undue control over access to your games. I don't really care. Well, actually I do, but it was a pill I swallowed when I bought Portal. And make no mistake; I bought Portal. Not Half-Life 2. Not Team Fortress 2. I bought Portal. Fifty bucks well spent. It just happened to come with the other two games.

Now, to be fair, Steam is far superior to EA's Origin, and really shouldn't be compared to it, but I still take issue with the fact that it's required to play games that I've bought and have the physical disc for. DRM, in any form, is bad. But, once you find a game that's worth accepting it, like I did with Portal, then the damage is already done, so you might as well enjoy the other goodies it has to offer.

So, yeah, it's not really what Origin does that makes me shy away from it. I hate EA. With a raging passion. But, you know what? I own all three Sims games. And, I own the first two Mass Effects, the second of which was made after EA bought Bioware. So, as much as I hate them, EA's name being attached to a product isn't really enough to keep me away from it. Especially not one as good as Mass Effect 3 promises to be.

So what is it, then? Why do I refuse to use Origin? Why would I deny myself the concluding chapter of one of the greatest series in gaming history? It may sound silly, but it's because of the name. Yes, really, the name. It opens old wounds and pours a bag of salt on them. Wounds for which I have never forgiven EA, and will never forgive them for reopening. Sit down, kiddies. It's story time.

Once upon a time, there was a man named Lord British. To his Earthling friends, he was known as Richard Garriott. He created Akalabeth, a sort of prequel to Ultima. At first, he was selling it out of a small computer store, but eventually it lead to the formation of one of the greatest game development companies in history: Origin Systems, Inc. Are we beginning to get the picture?

Origin Systems, under the leadership of Richard Garriott, became like what Blizzard or Bethesda is now. Or Bioware. Yeah, actually, that's a really good analogy, there. Origin Systems was the Bioware of its day. It made games that were innovative and deep, much as Bioware does today. It was responsible not only for the Ultima series, but for Wing Commander and System Shock (Yup, that's what inspired BioShock) as well. With Wing Commander: Privateer, they created a sandbox space flight simulator, back when sandbox games were unheard of. Without it, we wouldn't have had Freelancer. With Ultima Underworld, they introduced gamers to a first-person experience that featured full three dimensional movement, the ability to look up and down, and even the ability to jump, before DOOM ever hit shelves. It was the game that paved the way for things like The Elder Scrolls.

Origin Systems was also responsible for Ultima Online, one of the first graphical Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, or MMORPGs, and proved that the genre could be successful and profitable. That's right. Without Origin, there might not have been World of WarCraft. . . . Which might have been better, come to think of it. I hate MMOs, too, but that's an entire post topic to itself.

EA, being EA, wanted a slice of that yummy, yummy MMORPG pie. So, they bought out Origin Systems. Okay. No big. Richard Garriott and his merry band of misfits carried on as they always had, and Origin and EA both benefited from subscription fees for UO. Capitalism at its finest, yeah? Cool. So, Richard Garriott and his band of magical pirates and privateers sailed forward, and began production of the ninth installment of their flagship series, Ultima.

Now comes the part of the story that gets a little bit sad.

Ultima 9 was coming along, but not fast enough for the ever money hungry EA. They wanted the sales from that game NAO!!!! So, they told Richard Garriott to release it. He told them they couldn't release it yet. It wasn't finished. If they released it now, it would be an unfinished piece of crap. EA didn't listen. It had money wadded up in its ears. So, they forced Origin to release Ultima 9 early. Surprise surprise, it was an unfinished piece of crap. It flopped. What was EA's response? Did they say, "Oops! Our bad! We should of listened!" or "Oh. Well, huh, that didn't work. We'll do better next time, eh, Richard?" LMAO!!!! Fuck no. they said, "Oh, we fucked this game over. To make up for it, we're going to dissolve your company, and kick you out on the street. Have a nice day, Richard."

And Origin Systems, Inc. was no more.

But you better fucking believe they kept Ultima Online going. Even better, there was no Origin Systems to share the loot with anymore!!!

Fast forward to now, and EA has the fucking gall to insult this once great game development company by using its name on that piece of shit, thinly-veiled DRM, bullshit of a "service". EA is taking a massive dump on the memory of the company *THEY* destroyed. The way they treated Origin Systems is the origin point of my hatred of them (pun not intended . . . initially). Their business practices did little to make up for it. And now, just when it seems like they might be learning and getting better, letting Bioware do its own thing unhindered, they pull this shit.

So, no, I will never be buying Mass Effect 3 for as long as it requires Origin to play.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Toldara: Regions - The Forsaken North

 There are many regions in Toldara. The first one we're going to look at (because it will be featured in the game I'm running tonight) is the Forsaken North. It is a frozen wasteland with some truly hardcore denizens. While I will be providing traits that are gained by natives, I do recommend that you not allow players to use them. They are not balanced at all, but very lore friendly. Definitely better suited for NPCs. Rules for Traits can be found in the Pathfinder Advanced Players Guide (pg. 326).

The Forsaken North

The Forsaken North is a continent located at the North Pole, and buried under miles of ice and snow. It is the coldest and most treacherous region in Toldara, with the warmest temperatures never coming above zero, and the native creatures being the most fierce and hungry. Very little is known about the Forsaken North, as nearly all expeditions to it have ended in disaster. Most of what is known is legend and rumor. There are people who live in the Forsaken North, and they are just as hardy and fierce as the other creatures who call the glorified iceberg home. They are the Barbarians of the North, and are aware of, but care little for the powers of the South. They are nomadic and tribal, but are unified in their dedication for their Goddess-Queen, Xarlinia. Xarlinia is a Great White Wyrm who made the Forsaken North her territory eons ago, and has taken a liking to the roaming barbarians. The barbarians and their Queen have made it into the legends of the Southern kingdoms because of the rare occasions where Xarlinia has sent an emissary to the South to warn of events of great importance, mostly as her version of a subtle hint that they might want to possibly do something about it.

REGION TRAITS:

All characters that originate from the Forsaken North have Cold Resistance 5. Also, for the purposes of Cold Dangers in the Environmental Rules (Pathfinder Core Rulebook pg. 442), they treat Extreme Cold (-20 degrees) as just Cold. Severe Cold for characters from the Forsaken North is at -40 degrees, and Extreme Cold is at -60 degrees.

Ice Forged - You have lived your entire life in the wastes of the Forsaken North, and have managed to survive, not by out witting or out maneuvering, but by being able to take any punishment the North can dish out. Your body has been hardened by the cold and the hardships of the North. Characters with the Ice Forged trait gain a +2 to Fortitude saves.

Primal Calm - The Forsaken North instill in its inhabitants a primal ferocity that is unmatched anywhere else. You have learned to control that ferocity in yourself, and, by extension, in others. You gain a +2 to Diplomacy and Handle Animal checks. However, you find it more difficult to go into a Rage. Whenever you attempt to Rage, there is a 25% chance you fail to Rage.

Chill Charmed - The cold is your constant companion. Maybe you love the cold, and have dedicated yourself to becoming one with it. Maybe you were abandoned in the snow as a baby, and managed to miraculously survive, but not unchanged. However the connection was formed, cold energy is as natural to you as breathing. All spells you cast with the Cold type are cast at +1 caster level. Also, your appearance is different from others of your race. You're skin might be extremely pale and slightly blue, or your veins might glow slightly with an icy energy. Whatever the specifics, it should be drastic enough to be easily noticed, but it doesn't need to be unattractive (although it can be).

Frozen Shadow - Living in the Forsaken North your whole life, you've learned to survive by not being seen. Stealth in the arctic regions is second nature to you. You gain a +2 to Stealth checks when in any environment that is or resembles a place that is covered in snow and/or ice.

Barbarians of the North

The Barbarians of the north are tribal and nomadic, living wherever and however they can. The druids of some tribes have learned to cultivate the local plant life and feed their people that way. Other tribes rely on their warriors to provide meat from the local predators (as there is nothing but predators in the Forsaken North). They believe in honor, and will greet and house foreigners in need, but would never fully trust one. They are uninterested in the ways of the South. In fact, one of the quickest ways for a foreigner to wear out his or her welcome is to insist on any aspect of his or her culture or way of life as being better. All Barbarians of the North are unified, despite their tribal nature, in their dedication to Xarlinia, who acts as both goddess and queen to them. She is the one who taught the druids to cultivate local plant life, and has repeatedly helped tribes who have fallen on bad times survive.

The Barbarians of the North are a hardy people, mostly human in composition, though there is an extremely low percentage of representation from the other races. These oddballs are not looked down upon or outcast, as all members of the tribe are considered children of Xarlina, and the entire tribe must all pull together to survive. Xarlina will help when absolutely necessary, but will not pull the weight of a tribe that is capable of providing for itself.

Even the tribes with trained druids must still hunt and combat the native creatures to survive. The inhabitants of the Forsaken North are always hungry, and are always hunting. The Barbarians make for yummy snacks. Also, when the tribe must move into the territory of a local predator, there are always territorial conflicts. Because of that, the Barbarians are always battle-hardened (High-Level NPCs).

Toldara: Races - Oranians


My first real post for the Toldara campaign world. A new PC race: the Oranians. They're a humanoid/avian race. The closest example I can think of to give you an idea are the inhabitants of Dragon Roost Island from Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. The Oranians are actually more bird-like, but not by too much.

Oranians

Oranians are a bird-like race from the Oran Mountains. They are able to fly just as well as they can walk. In fact, flying is their preferred method of travel, as it is much faster. They love music and poetry. In fact, the best poets and musicians in the land are Oranians.

Personality: Oranians are poets and philosophers, musicians and knowledge seekers. Because of their ability to fly, they can travel easily to other lands. This has allowed them to hear the legends and histories of other races, as well as see their culture. They have grown to love such interaction, always searching to learn more about something, whether it be the location of a mythical artifact, or the play time rituals of a human child. They often write songs or poetry about their findings. They are usually always cheerful, and are delighted to learn any tidbit of information.

Physical Discription: Oranians are tall and mostly humanoid in shape. They stand from 5 ½ to 7 feet tall, and usually weigh between 175 and 300 pounds. They are completely covered in feathers, except for their feet and hands, which are talons, and the top of their heads, which has something that can be called hair, though it resembles down feathers almost as much as it does hair. They also have eagle-like wings on their backs, and generally have a wingspan equal to their height. Their heads are shaped more like a bird's head than a human head, complete with a beak. Oranians who stick to their own race's clothing traditions wear elegant robes with golden support bars for structure and holes in the back for their wings. Their feathers come in all manner of colors, from the browns of a hawk, to the grays of a pigeon, to the rainbow colors of a parrot. They achieve adulthood at 50 years, and they have no known lifespan, as no Oranian has ever died of old age. Whether this is because they die of other causes before they are able to, or because they simply don't grow old is unknown. The oldest known Oranian was 986 years old.

Relations: Oranians make a point of getting along well with other races. They love to observe and learn about the culture of other races, and are more than happy to share their own culture. For the most part, they find the other races amusing, but they find all of them fascinating.

Alignment: Oranians tend strongly toward Good, and it is very rare to find an evil one. However, their are just as many that are Lawful as there are that are Chaotic.

Oranian Lands: Oranians make their homes in the aviaries of the Oran Mountains, a vast connected maze of caves and caverns running through the entire mountain range with hundreds of outlets to the outside. They often go abroad into other lands for fun and adventure, but the Oran Mountains are the only place they feel comfortable calling home.

Religion: The patron god of the Oranians is the wind god, Metorlogis. While few ever truly abandon their worship of Metorlogis, some become so fascinated by other races that they take on the religions of those races.

Language: The native language is Auran, the language of air-based creatures, but they also speak Elven, as most of their songs and poems are written in Elven.

Names: Oranians used to have names specific to their race, but they have been influenced by other races to the point that they no longer have any naming traditions of their own. Instead, they use the names and traditions of other races.

Adventurers: Oranians love to adventure. They are always looking for some bit of history or myth to unveil. They will almost always find a party to adventure with, and will try to pick one that is as varied in the races that make it up as possible, so that they may learn all they can. Also, there is no better material for writing poems and songs than a grand adventure.

Oranian Racial Traits
  • +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, +2 Charisma, -2 Strength, -2 Constitution: Oranians are agile, have excellent awareness due to their animal senses, and are quite charismatic, which is helpful when interacting with other races. However, their hollow bones and unique body structure make them weak and frail.
  • Medium-size: As Medium-size creatures, Oranians have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Oranian base land speed is 30 feet. Air speed is 80 feet (Good) with light or no armor, 80 feet (Average) with medium armor, and 60 feet (Clumsy) with heavy armor.
  • Eagle's Sight: Oranians have excellent eyesight. Because of this, they can see twice as far as other races can in the same conditions.
  • Low-light Vision: Oranians can see just as far in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination as they can in daylight. They retain the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • +2 racial bonuses on Perception checks. Their eyesight is so good that, if they have line-of-sight to a secret door, they are entitled to a Search check as if they were actively searching for the door.
  • Unique Body-Type: Oranians have a unique body type that other races do not have (mostly because of the wings). For this reason, Oranians can only wear clothes and armor that is specifically made for them, whether it be custom made, or from a shop that sells Oranian goods. Such shops are not found just anywhere, and are usually just in large cities.
  • Automatic Languages: Common, Auran, and Elven. Bonus Languages: All except Halfling and Druid. Oranians learn the languages, as well as the cultures, of those they study. Only the secret languages are unknown to them.

Campaign World: Toldara

My cousin and I have been working on a campaign world of our own for quite some time. We've gotten several ideas, and made up rules for them, but have never gotten around to getting a cohesive document out that details everything. We started this in the days of D&D 3rd ed. We have always intended on adapting the world to other systems, besides just D&D, but we used D&D as a base. My cousin has decided that he will be working on the version that uses some of the other systems, and it is my responsibility to update things to the Pathfinder ruleset, and some of the other, more rules-intensive systems. I am totally down with that. So begins a new series on my blog; the campaign world of Toldara.

Before we get into this, I wanted to mention that my cousin runs his own blog; The Semi-Retired Gamer. It's a really cool site in which he talks a lot about his experiences with table-top gaming, among other things. He is and old-school gamer, and his posts tend to reflect that. It's really interesting for someone like me, who got into table-top gaming during the D&D 3rd ed. era, to read his posts about earlier games. I don't have a lot of experience with them, and it's always nice to see where this form of gaming came from, and be introduced to games and systems I might never have known existed otherwise. Not to mention ideas for completely new games. Definitely worth checking out. Oh, and he posts much more frequently than I do. Lol!

So, what is Toldara? It's a high fantasy campaign setting that has a rich history, complex relationships between various powers, and, when it's finished, will have a tremendous amount of detail that other worlds tend to lack, such as different currency for each nation and exchange rates.

The basic history goes something like this: Some of the younger gods wanted a world to call their own, something that wouldn't have ties with the more established gods, so they went to create such a world. They couldn't agree on exactly how to go about it, so had to use a mediator who would incorporate everyone's ideas to actually create the world itself, though they would create the inhabitants themselves. The mediator they chose was a god of whimsy who promised to keep the world to the other gods' specifications, as long as he was allowed to add two or three of his own ideas as he chose. Things went well, until four new gods appeared and waged a war upon the world of Toldara. The new gods were the goddess of Chaos, the god of Evil, the goddess of Law, and the god of Good. The goddess of Chaos and the god of Evil brought their minions from the Abyssal and Infernal planes to wreak havoc upon the mortal inhabitants of Toldara. The original gods and goddesses could do nothing to help their creations against the onslaught, and had to enlist the help of the god of Good and the goddess of Law. This was known as the First Fiend Invasion. A lot of relics and ruins from this period are still around. They are some of the most powerful, and most dangerous, relics around. Most are made from a special mineral that is near impossible to find now (due to the fact most of it was used during the First Fiend Invasion). Though much of the magicks and technologies that were developed during this period were lost (deliberately, as they were quite dangerous), the various nations have come up with other means of preventing another Fiend Invasion, and hopefully being able to combat one if they fail to prevent it, including the Dragon Knights of the Bronze Kingdom, the Inquisition, the Tech-Mages, and the Rulac Karnin, among others.

There's actually a lot more to it than that, but if I get into it all here, this post will go on forever, and I have other posts to make today. Eventually, the history will get it's own post, however, and it will be far too long. Lmao!

For now, signing off. See you again real soon!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

StarCraft 2 101: The Zerg

Greetings, Internet! This is Drai-Gon typing. We are here today to talk Starcraft. My good friend LawGambit started a small series on his blog covering the basics of StarCraft II, which takes a look at each race individually, and gives some information behind some of the simple mechanics behind each one. LawGambit has already done one on Terran, which can be found here, and Protoss, which can be found here. We thought it would be a good idea for me to handle the Zerg, as it is the race I play. Because this follows the same format and is basically just the continuation of LawGambit's series, I highly recommend reading them first. The first installment was the Terran, and the second was the Protoss. Now for the third.

The Zerg are entirely organic in nature. They're basically giant bugs, and can be produced about as quickly. Each individual unit is rarely the most powerful unit on the field, but what they lack in sheer power, they more than make up for in numbers and speed. Also, with the Burrow upgrade researched, nearly all Zerg ground units have a "stealth mode" they can activate by burrowing into the ground, though this generally leaves them unable to move.

Zerg Starting Equipment

This is a Hatchery. It is the core building in any Zerg base; the equivalent to the Command Center (Terran) or the Nexus (Protoss). It comes with six Drones, which are the builder/gatherer units of the Zerg army. There are a few things to take note of right off the bat. One is the purple goo that surrounds the Zerg base. This is called Creep. All Zerg structures must be built on the Creep, except the Hatchery and a few other exceptions which will be noted later. The Creep also allows certain units to move faster while they're on it. Also notice the little centipede-like things underneath the Hatchery. Those are larva, and are used to make units. Larva are generated by the Hatchery, which will generate up to three larva. The Hatchery is the only structure that generates larva, making it the building from which all Zerg units come from. The greatest benefit from this system is that multiple units can be created simultaneously from a single building, whereas Terran and Protoss must queue up units and build them one at a time.
Flying Food!

This is an Overlord, the Zerg version of a Supply Depot/Pylon. Unlike the other two races, this is a unit that can be moved and issued commands. With the right upgrades, it can even act as the Zerg's transport unit.
From a Drone into a pimple


Zerg build structures differently than other races. Their Drones actually morph into the structures they construct, meaning you lose a drone in the process. However, Zerg structures are generally cheaper in cost to make up for the loss.


Extractors are the gas factories of the Zerg race. They operate just like other gas factories.


Pictured above is a Spawning Pool. Though all units come from the hatchery, this structure is required for the Zerg's first combat unit. It is also required for other structures that unlock more advanced units and tech.
"I think you hit someone's dog, sir." - Random Terran


These are Zerglings, the smallest and fastest of the Zerg combat units. They are the cheapest combat unit, and you get two of them for every one larva you morph, making it very easy and quick to produce a swarm of them. Singly, they are the weakest combat unit in the game. In a swarm, they are nightmarishly frightening.


The unit pictured above is the Queen. The Queen is absolutely essential for Zerg production. She has several abilities, including the ability to expand the Creep, heal structures, and allow a Hatchery to have more than three larva, and is a decent combat unit with the ability to attack both ground and air targets. Her main drawback is that she is slow, even on Creep. Most of the time, she is used for her Inject ability, which gives the Hatchery more larva, and as a last line of defense for the base.


The Roach Warren allows for the production of Roaches, one of which is pictured next to the Warren. Roaches are generally the first ranged units Zerg players have access to. With the right upgrades, they are also capable of moving while burrowed, allowing them to sneak into enemy territory, emerging only for the attack. By then, it's usually too late, especially since their acid attacks tend to eat through armor.


The Evolution Chamber is the structure used to research ground unit upgrades, making them tougher and more powerful.


The Baneling Nest allows Zerglings to morph into the dreaded Banelings, as shown above. Banelings are kamazazi units that explode on impact, dealing massive amounts of damage. A swarm of them can melt entire armies, and ravage entire bases.


This is the Hydralisk Den. It allows for the production of the second tier unit, the Hydralisk (pictured next to the Hydralisk Den). Hydralisks are slow moving when not on Creep, but are decently armored, have ranged attacks, and can attack both ground and air units. They are also the most iconic of the Zerg units. If you've only seen one Zerg before, it was probably a Hydralisk.


The Spire allows production of Zerg air units, and also has the upgrades for them. It can be upgraded to a Greater Spire to allow access to the Zerg's third tier air unit.


These second tier air units are, from left to right, the Corruptor and the Mutalisk. The Mutalisk is fairly weak, but it's fast, can attack both ground and air targets, and its attacks hit multiple targets. The Corruptor is much more powerful, but can only attack other air units.


This is an Infestation Pit next to the Infestor unit that it allows to be created. The Infestor is the spellcaster unit of the Zerg army, and is the only other unit besides the Roach that can move while burrowed. It can immobilize and damage units, create Infested Terrans, and even take control of enemy units.


The Nydus Network is a fairly unique building. Not counting Terran add-ons, it is the only structure in the game that creates other structures. Namely, these:
Horry Shite! Wut iz dis?!?!?



Nydus Worms. Ground units go in, and can come out at any other Nydus Worm or the Nydus Network on the map.


And here, standing side by side, it the Ultralisk Cavern and the Ultralisk it allows to be produced. The Ultralisk is the toughest and most powerful Zerg ground unit. It can only attack other ground units, but it will tear them to shreds. But which is which? The unit is bigger that the structure!!! (HINT: The unit is the one on the left)


The almighty Brood Lord. Morphed from the Corruptor, it is the greatest of the Zerg units. It can only attack ground units, so should always be supported with Corruptors. However, only a handful can level armies and wipe enemy bases off the face of existence.

And that's the Zerg race, in a nutshell. They're fast and numerous, and that is their greatest advantage. Used correctly, they can out produce any opponent. I wuffles them!!! ^____^

Friday, April 27, 2012

Admitting Defeat

I don't like quitting. I don't like asking for help. I'm stubborn, and I like being able to do things on my own. I don't like to fail. But I have.

The new job didn't go well. I mean, I did well. They loved me there. I did decent work, apparently, and I learned quickly. However, the longer I worked there, the more I hated the place. No, that isn't normal. I've had a few jobs over the years, and I've never hated any of them as much as I did this one. It was making me physically ill to be there, and the mere thought of going back the next morning made me literally shake. So, I quit.

They had me on a three month trial period before they hired me on permanently. I made it nearly to the end of that. I quit on the Monday of the week they were going to offer the position to me. I couldn't take it anymore. The sad part is, if you asked me what about the job I didn't like, I'm not sure I could tell you. There wasn't any one, specific thing. There were parts of the job itself that I didn't particularly like, but none of them, individually, warranted the ire I had for that job. There was the fact that I had to get up at 5 AM. Actually, that was a bigger part of it than you might think. I am not a morning person. At all. Hate early morning with a passion. Also, I'm a night person. I love staying up late. Since quitting, I have regularly stayed up until 4 AM. Before getting that job, it wasn't uncommon for me to stay up until 2 or 3 AM. While I had the job, on days I had to work I couldn't stay up much past 9 PM. So, not only did I have to get up incredibly early, but my nights were robbed from me. I no longer had a life. It was merely working, then trying to find what little joy I could find in the scant hours I had until I had to be in bed. And then, there was the near constant injury to my hands and arms. A day didn't go by without at least a few cuts and bruises. And hardly a week went by that I didn't get one or more injuries that required bandages and at least a week's worth of healing. One time, all my injuries healed over the weekend, and *that Monday* I got four different blisters on three different fingers. Go ahead. Do the math on that. I'll wait.

So, yeah. Not sure it was any one thing. There was just so much I didn't like about that place, and it didn't have any redeeming qualities at all. Oh, remember what I said in an earlier post about opportunities to move around? Lies. And they didn't encourage me trying to learn things as much as I thought they would. I still don't have a good idea about what any of it did. Most of the people there are content with following instructions and not knowing what they're really doing. I don't like that. So, yeah, not just bad, but it was never going to improve.

I sort of went down the stream without a paddle, though. I am currently unemployed, as I didn't have a job lined up when I quit. I tried to get one, but I have the most horrible luck on such things. Though, I seem to be getting luckier than usual. It's not official, but I'm pretty sure I have a job at Wal-Mart. Or, I will very soon. As soon as the drug test gets back. So, I didn't have one when I left, but I should have one not much longer than two weeks after. Lucky me!

I moved back in with my parents. Had to. No job = no money = can't pay my share of the rent. But, as happy as I am that I don't have to go back to that job, it doesn't even bother me. Also, I've had time to focus on other things. I've been able to do things that are fulfilling and fun, instead of just existing. LawGambit and I have started streaming again, and I've got so many D&D ideas that need to be written down and worked out, it ain't funny.

So, here I am. Admitting defeat. It's a horrid taste in my mouth, but it's quickly being washed away. So, what do you say? Shall we get this blog back on track? No more boring/depressing RL stuff. Time for fun and exciting stuff! My next post will probably be either StarCraft related or D&D related. And from there, who knows? But it will be fun!

Monday, February 13, 2012

You Get What You Pay For

It was my birthday last Friday. Yay, me! I turned 25. I met my goal of being out of my parents' place by the time I turned a quarter century old. I don't think of it as a major accomplishment as much as preventing myself from sucking balls. But, hey, every day I prevent that is a win, so go me!

I turned this celebration into a weekend affair. Friday, on my actual birthday, my parents took me out for some real Italian food. It was delicious. Except for the appetizer. We had ordered fried cheese sticks, but they apparently didn't have any at that time. Instead, our waitress suggested something Italian, which she described a lot of cheese wrapped in something Italian. I don't speak Italian. Not even as much as I really should for as many times as I've been to an Italian restaurant. I should at least know the Italian names of food by now. I do not. I should have asked. As it turned out, it was cheese wrapped in ham. Now, I don't remember if I've mentioned this on the blog before, and I don't think I have, but I don't eat pork. It's not a religious thing, or a moral thing. It's more of a health thing. Plus, most forms of pork, I simply don't like, anyway. So, not only do I not eat pork, but ham happens to be one of the nastiest (to me) forms of pork. I hate ham. I do wonder why our waitress even suggested the dish, as it had nothing in common with what we had originally ordered at all, except in the amount of cheese it had in it. Which, BTW, didn't make it better because, even after unwrapping it, the cheese by itself still tasted like ham. I don't blame the waitress, though. I really should have asked what it was. Still, the rest of the meal was amazing. Fettucini alfredo was the main course, my favorite pasta/sauce mixture. The restaurant serves a loaf of bread with every meal, and makes a olive oil and pepper dip for it. Simply divine. And the meal was topped of with some fancy coffee. I can't remember what was all in them. I think one had Irish cream (real, alcoholic Irish cream), and they might have both had Kahlua. They were very good. . . . Erm, no, I didn't drink both of them. I had one and my Dad had the other. For those who would recognize the place, it was Romano's Macaroni Grill.

Saturday was spent with one of my best friends. Not LawGambit, unfortunately, but another friend who I hadn't hung out with in far too long. We went to one of the few five star restaurants we have in this area. I had been craving steak for about a week, so it seemed like a good idea. We got some steak, a filet mignon for her and a NY strip for me, both of which came with a potato, and we ordered some fried mushrooms as an appetizer as well. It was delicious. It was my first NY strip, and, in all honesty, as far as steak goes, it wasn't my favorite. I'd have liked the filet mignon much better. That being said, it was still steak, and it was still yum. Also, some of the best mushrooms I've had in a very long time, if not ever. The place itself it very nice as well. I love that place, both inside and out. I do believe it would be my favorite restaurant, were price no issue. Unfortunately, it is, and $108 for two people is a steep price to pay. I'd pay it again, especially considering the sheer volume of food you get (we couldn't eat it all), just not anytime soon. If you're ever in Oklahoma and slightly Northeast of Tulsa (and you have lots of money you're not particularly attached to), check out Molly's Landing. Their tea is fantastic, as well, if you care about such things. I do. I love tea, in all its forms. Good tea is important to me. And they have it. Aside from that, we played a new board game she had gotten recently. I forgot what it was called, but it involved building towns and roads, and getting points from completing them based on how many minions you had in/on them when they finished. There was a variant of it that used a dragon and a fairy. I love dragons and fae, so I was all over that. We played twice, and she beat me both times, and both times by almost exactly 50 points. I can't wait to play again. ^_^ The last thing we did that evening was went to see the movie Chronicle. We liked it. I am a little distressed by the number of movies coming out recently that present themselves as being filmed by the characters in the film. As a whole, I don't think this is something that should be done a lot. However, Chronicle cheats from time to time, and it makes it a better movie for doing so. It's a really decent story, and the special effects are better then you might expect from such a movie. The characters are a little stereotypical, but they are likable, and they react to what's going on really well. I do believe that it's an accurate portrayal of what would happen if three high-schoolers suddenly got telekinesis. It's a good movie, and worth checking out.

Sunday was spent at my new home, hanging out with the friends I now live with. Well, a sizable chunk was spent grocery shopping with one of them, but still. It was nice. I was made to sit down and watch Being Human. I've known of the series for quite awhile, even before the U.S. version came out. However, I have a really hard time, sometimes, of sitting down and watching a new show. Plus, what little I'd seen of the U.S. version (my Dad watches it, so I've seen bits and pieces) did seem too appealing. Very interesting idea, but too soon after Twilight to possibly be executed properly. I was wrong. It's good stuff. Really good stuff. I watched both versions that night, and the U.S. version is actually better. I was surprised (I'm not a snob who thinks all foreign shows are better, but usually the original version is the best). I will definitely be watching more of that show.

So, here I am, after an amazing weekend, totally broke (beyond, actually), but infinitely enriched. My parents got me a Yamaha 88-key keyboard for my birthday. I had been wanting one for years. Now it's time to learn some music. Enriched now, thanks to amazing friends and family. Enriched for life, thanks to Yamaha.

I am broke, but not poor, because I got what I paid for.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

And Darkness Falls, Until a New Dawn Rises

Does anyone else think zip ties look like someone trying to give themselves head? Or is that just me?

Wow. I totally didn't intend on going dark that long. Of course, it didn't help any that I thought I had posted since my Escapism post, and apparently I haven't. I have not been idle during this time, however! A lot of things have been happening. For one, I got a new job. And a new home. Well, the home isn't mine, actually. I moved in with some friends that lived nearby where I work, now. I hung in my retail hat to work on the electrical components of industrial band saws. <sarcasm>I know, right? Sounds like a dream job for someone like me.</sarcasm> Believe it or not, it's actually kind of fun. Plus, there will eventually be opportunities for me to get into a programming or tech position within the company. This company like people who move around within it, and I intend to do just that. While the concept of industrial band saws doesn't sound all that interesting, the work that goes into it is. I've always wanted to learn more about the hardware side of things, and now I'm getting to. The wiring I'm doing now is very much like physical programming. The only real issue I have with it at this point is that I don't know what it all does, or what it's for. It's like being handed a sheet of paper with lines of code on it, told approximately where they're supposed to go in the program, then told to type them into the computer as they appear on the paper, with maybe some minor changes depending on what is needed, but never understanding what the lines of code actually do. Hell of a way to write a program. However, that's basically what I'm doing. Just with wires instead of code. The kicker is, from what little I can tell, it's a fairly simple program. Well, at least each Method or Subroutine is fairly simple. It's just that it's all written in a language I don't understand, and that's so completely different from the languages I know that I can't translate. This job would be a hell of a lot more fun and fulfilling if I understood what it was I was doing, and how it would affect the end product. So, that's a goal of mine. Learn the secret language of wires and electrical circuits.

Going into so much new all at once has thrown me for a hell of a loop. New job, new home, new town, new everything. Also, this is the first time I haven't lived with my parents. I'm not truly out on my own, since I'm living with friends, but at the same time, I kind of am. I'm not living off of someone, now. I'm contributing as much as anyone else in the house (or I'm trying to. My housemates have trouble letting me pay for stuff). It feels pretty good, but I'm still settling. It doesn't quite feel like home, yet. On the other hand, my parents' place doesn't feel like home anymore, either. So, yeah. I'm still a little lost, and trying to figure things out, but it is all starting to come together. I'm finally getting my feet back underneath myself, and am starting to see clearly, again, where I am, and where I want to go from here. I still have a very long journey ahead of me, but I've made some significant progress in the last month. If I can just maintain it, and keep it from crashing around me until it stabilizes, I should be set.

I just had a thought. I wondered what my reaction to this post will be, years from now, if I ever look back on it. I imagine I'll laugh at myself for worrying about such silly things, and I'll probably be right in doing so. Right now, though, nothing is certain. I have some serious self-confidence issues, and cannot help but think about the possibility of catastrophic failure. I have come a long way in the past couple of years, though. Even my low self-esteem will admit that much. I don't know if I'm ready for this, but I am ready to try.

Here I go.